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November 11, 2015

Complements of Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka, FL

Captain John Kumiski's Trophy Redfish

Captain John Kumiski's Trophy Redfish

This Week's Fishing Report

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are only this earth for a short ride, and sometimes the good Lord and life in general remind us it's time to step back and start appreciating the simple things we often pay little attention to in our fast pace lives. Well these past few weeks on my short ride around this sun I experienced both pain and the many blessings God has for us. You may recall back a few weeks ago my wife Sandi and I were attending the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association conference in Eufaula Alabama when I thought I pulled a muscle in in my back. Well it turned out what I thought was a pulled muscle was several pulmonary embolisms and I ended up spending a total of nine days in the hospital.

You never know when this type of life event will hit you, and you never realize how many people you've touched in your life, that reach back and touch you. Although this illness was a setback in some ways, it was a blessing in so many others. With that said, I would like to thank all of my family and friends their thoughts and prayers and for being there and caring for me, I love you all.
Even though this situation is a hindrance for me, my road to recovery includes slowing down a bit and fishing more, so for me it's actually a win win because slowing down and fishing more are right up my ally. With that said, I've fished four out of the past five days and I'm scheduled for my annual week of fishing the Sebastian Inlet area starting on Friday and I'll let you know how that goes in next week's report.

Fall Cypress Colors on the St. Johns River

Fall Cypress Colors on the St. Johns River

Around the same time the cypress trees begin to change color, the crappie begin to bunch up in the three connecting lakes of the St. Johns River.

Wade's Lake Monroe Crappie

Wade's Lake Monroe Crappie

Fishing for me this past week started with speckled perch (crappie) fishing adventure on Lake Monroe with my good friends Wade and Charlie, and we fished out of Charlie's pontoon boat. Although the weather is still warm, the crappie are starting to form up and we managed to catch 24 keepers between the three of us slow trolling (1.7 mph) longlines with TTI Blakemore Roadrunners and vertical jigs tipped with live minnows.

On Saturday Wade and I returned to Lake Monroe in my skiff to fish in the Coastal Angler Orlando Magazines Crappie Derby Tournament and things did not go as well. First the trim on my boat failed and one of my trolling motor batteries was dead, so the slowest we could troll off of the main engine was 2.1 mph which was too fast. Our next option was to fish minnows under corks, but there was zero wind and the air temperature was 89 degrees, so we only managed to catch two crappie. We ended the day by returning to the house and working on my boat.

John's Birthday Redfish

John's Birthday Redfish

On Sunday I fished my first charter since my illness and surprisingly it went very well. Lucky for me my anglers were repeat clients and very good fisherman. I was once again honored to fish with John and his two adult sons Cory and Kyle as they celebrated their dad's birthday together on the water. I selected to fish the north Indian River Lagoon near Titusville and although the fishing was tough, we still manager four redfish and four sea trout. The water levels in the Lagoons have come down some, but it was still high enough for me to pole the very edge of the mangroves.

Captain Tom's Redfish Rehab caught while fishing with my good friend Captain John Kumiski

Captain Tom's Redfish Rehab caught while fishing with my good friend Captain John Kumiski

Yesterday I had the pleasure to fish with my good friend Captain John Kumiski out of Port Canaveral in his Mitzi Skiff and our goal was to catch some Spanish mackerel and bluefish for his smoker. Hurricane Kate had kicked up the seas to around four feet but a steady west wind increased the wave interval to about 10 seconds, so although the seas were bumpy they were fishable. Our day started out decent as we found a good number of finger mullet still around and catching bait was a piece of cake. We then headed out of the Port and finding fish became the challenge. After several hours of looking, we finally found a school of pogies (Atlantic menhaden) and there was both bluefish and some trophy redfish eager to take a bait as both John and I ended up with about four trophy redfish each and a mess of bluefish for his smoker.
Even though the seas were bumpy and we encountered a stout rain squall on the way in, I found this experience quite exhilarating and faced the squall head on enjoying the sting of the fat raindrops on my face and being alive to fish another day.

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Fishing Forecast

November, 2015

Complements of Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka, FL

November in Central Florida is notorious for greeting us with blustery easterly winds as our first significant cold fronts pass. Although windy, fishing will remain outstanding in and around the inlets until water temperature drop below 70 degrees and as long as sea conditions remain fishable. In the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian, snook fishing will remain excellent during low light periods and at night as the remaining baitfish traveling down the beach are forced in close to the jetties and other structure with the best action occurring during slack tidal periods, especially the end of high tide. During these periods hungry gamefish take advantage of slow currents and feed heavily. As the tide begins to fall, gamefish move into their ambush locations to finish off their frenzy. Breeder Redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and tarpon all share in the fury, so step up your tackle size and hold on.

My favored technique is to cast net live mullet, and drift them through the passes on a sliding sinker rig. Look for areas of feeding activity, birds diving and fish busting, and adjust the size of your weight based on current. The rig I use starts out with a Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook proportionate to your bait size to allow a natural swimming appearance. In simple terms, small bait small hook, large bait large hook. Next, I attach a 30-inch section of 30 to 40 pound test Gamma fluorocarbon leader to a 20-pound test braided mainline. If large tarpon are your target or are suspected, step your leader size up to 60-pound test. Before I tie on my hook, I slide my slip sinker on to the leader, then attach the hook, and finish the rig off by using a split shot or plastic bead located between the barrel sinker and the hook adjusted to keep the weight off of the hook. As I drift through the passes, I like to cast parallel to my drift with just enough weight to keep the bait in the feeding zone, and increase the barrel sinker size as the current picks up. Additionally, as we near the end of November and finger mullet diminish, switch to pinfish on pigfish as bait. Finally and most important, pass fishing in November can be dangerous, so as I drift through the inlet, I keep the helm manned with my engine running, keeping a close eye on boat traffic and sea conditions, and always be prepared for evasive action if needed.

As the first significant cold front passes and surf temperatures reach the 68-degree mark, flounder slide into the inlets on their annual spawning migration out to sea. The exodus usually begins with the arrival of the smaller 1 to 3-poung gulf flounder (three spot), which are later joined by the doormat size 2 to 14-pound southern flounder. Many anglers prefer to anchor up and fish live finfish on the bottom, but I favor drifting the lagoon side of the passes bouncing a 1/4 ounce DOA CAL Jig 3" CAL Shad tail on the bottom. This vertical jigging technique allows me to cover more area and catch a wider assortment of species. Likewise, as lagoon temperatures cool, pompano are another likely target as they congregate on the lagoon side of the passes before moving out to their winter haunts along the beaches to feed on sand fleas (mole crabs) their favorite winter food.

Cobia and tripletail fishing can be very good this time of year depending on ocean temperatures (71 to 74 degrees is best) and winter weather conditions. To target them, head east out of Port Canaveral or Sebastian Inlet looking for rips, sargassum and flotsam pushed in by the easterly fetch. Once you have located the floating structure, work the rip with the sun to your back looking for fish suspended underneath, and catch then on spinning tackle or fly, or a live shrimp on a jig.

Inside the lagoons, water levels are still high, but as we move into the winter months falling water levels and cleaner conditions will facilitate increased sight fishing prospects for both redfish and sea trout. Additionally, we are currently near the end of our fall mullet run, so these inshore species of fish will be transitioning their feeding habits from finfish to shrimp and crab, so adjust your lure selections accordingly, and look for more tailing fish up on the flats.

Lastly on the freshwater side, look for the crappie bite to kick in on the big lakes of the St Johns River as cooler water temperatures facilitate the arrogations of crappie in deeper water in preparation for spawning. This seasonal transition marks the beginning of crappie season in Florida. My preferred methods are to slow troll several longlines out the side rigged with TTI Blakemore Road Runners tipped with live minnows as well with several vertical jigging rigs set up with tandem jigs tipped with live minnows. Crappie are often overlooked by most Florida anglers, that is until to catch a few and cook them up, and from that point on you are a crappie angler.

If you are a crappie or American shad angler, the 7th Annual Central Florida Shad and Crappie Derby begins tomorrow November 1st and extends through the winter into spring. It’s free for anglers and you can fish anywhere in Florida, so be sure you stop by a participating retail location before you hit the water and sign up. .

Saving the best for last, it’s the 2nd Annual Toy Rod Catfish Challenge for Charity. This event is the most fun anglers can have with their close on. Scheduled for November 29th 8:00 to 1:00 PM at C.S. Lee Park in Geneva, Florida. This event is a holiday season charity toy run for anglers, where angling teams compete to the largest of total inches of catfish caught using only toy rods and the title of Catfish King and Catfish Queen. The highlight of the event is a boat parade and fish fry at the end. For more details on the Annual Toy Rod Catfish Challenge visit

Captain Tom Van Horn